By Dialogo April 20, 2011 Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos affirmed on 18 April that the country is in the final phase of the fight for peace, and it is therefore urgent that government forces redouble their efforts and multiply the number of actions in order to achieve that victory. “In every war, the final phase is the most complicated, the most difficult, and we’re in that final phase,” the president said at the Management Dialogues event held at the Defense Ministry. The head of state reaffirmed his confidence in the Armed Forces and invited their members to continue pressing forward, since “the challenge is a large one.” He highlighted Colombians’ backing for the work performed by members of government forces. He declared that “the work that is being done here in the ministry depends on that, and so does the fact that our heroes (because I’ve always considered them that way, our heroes), our soldiers, our police officers, our marines are all over our national territory, risking their lives; the achievement of that goal is going to depend on them. It’s a goal that the entire country supports,” he said. He affirmed that the ministry’s objectives are ambitious, but he indicated that he is sure that they will be met, because he had the opportunity to get to know the capabilities of the military as defense minister. “I remember very well that when I arrived at this ministry, we proposed to strike telling blows at the FARC secretariat, and people laughed: that’s what all the ministers have been saying for the last forty years. Well, thanks to your work, we’ve succeeded in striking the heaviest blows that have been struck against these FARC bandits in history,” he added. He reiterated that security is one of the national government’s priorities, as a fundamental starting point for prosperity. “We consider the work being done by the Ministry of Defense to be the most important of all. Security, as I’ve repeated on many, many occasions, is the foundation of progress. The Romans themselves, when they invented the republic, said that security is the republic’s first law. If that law is not enforced, the others become toothless,” President Santos indicated.
The Dutch Pensions Federation has clashed with supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) over “unnecessary and costly” governance changes at a time when the sector’s attention is focused on external developments.Responding to the watchdog’s proposed extension of the rules for assessing the suitability of people in important roles at pension funds, Edith Maat, the industry organisation’s director, said that DNB was “trying to change the rules during the game”.In a letter to the supervisor, the federation said the proposed policy changes were extensive, contrary to what DNB had initially suggested.According to the industry organisation, DNB wanted to include people in the key positions for audit, risk management and actuarial matters – prescribed by the European pensions directive IORP II – in its screening process. Edith Maat, Dutch Pensions Federation“Pension funds must be enabled to govern and to fully focus on the interest of their participants, as they are currently under intense pressure from fast developments in the sector”Edith Maat, Pensions FederationThe federation also noted that the regulator intended to extend its assessment framework to the suitability criterion of having “sufficient time for the job”.As a consequence, pension funds would have to spend “a disproportional amount of time for internal reorganisation, rather than tackling external developments”, said Maat.The Pensions Federation argued that DNB’s plan lacked a legal basis, while the higher implementation costs and increased regulatory pressure hadn’t been balanced against “benefits and necessity”.It highlighted that pension fund governance had continuously been subject to change since 2012, and that it had strongly improved in the meantime.The organisation argued that DNB’s approach hampered the implementation of significant changes to the pensions system as it would destabilise scheme governance.“Pension funds must be enabled to govern and to fully focus on the interest of their participants, as they are currently under intense pressure from fast developments in the sector,” said Maat, referring to looming cuts to pension rights and benefits .Several pension funds have chosen to liquidate and transfer arrangements to other providers in recent months, citing increased regulatory pressure and rising costs.According to the FD, DNB said that “in particular in a challenging financial environment, a solid governance is needed to take the right decisions”.It said it disputed the organisation’s claim that DNB had used too liberal an interpretation of the law for the justification of its proposals, adding that it wanted to discuss the matter with the federation. The proposals would enable DNB to re-screen existing trustees that had been allocated a key position.Speaking to Dutch financial newspaper FD, Maat said pension funds would have to hire new staff for key positions. She compared the proposed additional rules to a “Christmas tree” of supervision and questioned the value of the proposals.
…says to facilitate studies in oil and gas managementPeople’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Parliamentarian Charles Ramson Jr on September 30 tendered his resignation as a Member of Parliament in order to pursue a Masters in Oil and Gas at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom.In his letter to Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Barton Scotland, the young parliamentarian explained that he applied to pursue a Masters in Oil and Gas Enterprise Management given that Guyana was moving in the direction of becoming an oil and gas producing nation.Charles Ramson Jr“It is absolutely critical for our national development that we have Guyanese who are technically trained in the oil and gas sector. This is particularly important for us as a nation in this preparatory phase as we frame the relevant policy, law and vision if we are to avoid the often cited ‘resource curs’ commonly associated with oil and gas producing nations,” he stated.Notably, Ramson was also awarded a full scholarship from Chevening, a prestigious scholarship competitively awarded on a global scale funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.The PPP/C has already been engaged in consultations to find a replacement MP.DisappointmentsMeanwhile, in his resignation letter, Ramson expressed disappointment over two pertinent issues which prevailed during his time in Parliament.Firstly, he was deeply concerned over the lack of youth representation at the parliamentary and cabinet levels.“This is particularly regrettable given the youth drive leading up to the election and now young people feel betrayed and voiceless,” he stated.Secondly, he said there needs to be a stronger commitment for national unity:“The current APNU/AFC Government has made it pellucid that it is not committed to the realisation of the most fundamental desire of the Guyanese people – national unity – by demonstrating its unflinching position of not sending bills to a Parliamentary Select Committee despite the pleading from us on the Opposition side. Sending bills to a Parliamentary select committee happened virtually as a matter of course especially in the last eight years under the PPP/C Government.The squandered opportunity which cannot now be regained would have framed the success of politics by forging a working relationship among political leaders in a country plagued by divisions in politics and race or a combination of both. Admittedly, this may have slowed the process but being able to work together despite differences is the extolled virtues of a democracy. This is really what the Guyanese people would have wanted first and foremost from us Parliamentarians – lasting unity forged in struggle rather than notional unity spoken in the abstract.”